Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press USA (2009)
By Parallel Reasoning is the first comprehensive philosophical examination of analogical reasoning in more than forty years designed to formulate and justify standards for the critical evaluation of analogical arguments. It proposes a normative theory with special focus on the use of analogies in mathematics and science. In recent decades, research on analogy has been dominated by computational theories whose objective has been to model analogical reasoning as a psychological process. These theories have devoted little attention to normative questions. In this book Bartha proposes that a good analogical argument must articulate a clear relationship that is capable of generalization. This idea leads to a set of distinct models for the critical analysis of prominent forms of analogical argument. The same core principle makes it possible to relate analogical reasoning to norms and values of scientific practice. Reasoning by analogy is justified because it strikes an optimal balance between conservative values, such as simplicity and coherence, and progressive values, such as fruitfulness and theoretical unification. Analogical arguments are also justified by appeal to symmetry--like cases are to be treated alike. In elaborating the connection between analogy and these broad epistemic principles, By Parallel Reasoning offers a novel contribution to explaining how analogies can play an important role in the confirmation of scientific hypotheses.